Women wearing face masks

What does the pandemic mean for the future of coworking?


by Johan Quie, November 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, especially the lockdown, took a toll on coworking spaces, much as they did on many other businesses. While some coworking spaces remained open, many others had to temporarily close or have faced shuttering when the buildings housing them closed for the public.

Many coworking spaces dropped their membership at the onset of the pandemic, but numbers have since risen – not much, but only to show that coworking is not dead. The rise was for offices because people have started to look for a new office, a greener one and much more spacious.

Coworking operators have grasped these new opportunities and new business models to respond to the change, with flexible working hours and many sanitary-related amenities. But, what will Covid-19 mean for the future of coworking?

Flexibility models set to adapt

The adaptation of coworking spaces in the post-Covid will definitely look different. Tracking the dramatic decrease of coworking space over the last months, there’s quite a lot of pressure on that sector as the lockdown has had a very tangible impact on occupancy on a coworking and shared space.

In the process of reopening coworking spaces essential for business, members are inclined to use the working spaces, which are a mixture of small offices, dedicated personal desks, and open spaces.

With agility remaining a significant driver for occupiers, flexible spaces have become an integral part of portfolio strategy, and it’s expected to continue. In fact, setting up leverage for more flexible space solutions is required for teams, even in the re-entry process, and even more as we move further forward. In the long term, the future of coworking spaces will become more flexible, agile, and distributed!

Online meeting

Becoming healthy with technological advancement

The impact on coworking operators will depend on how successful businesses can present themselves as healthy places! Some coworking spaces have established themselves apart from “world-class” facilities historically defined as computed infrastructures and defining themselves in terms of the quality and health of the environment.

The development of technological solutions such as temperature scanning and contact tracing has allowed (co)workers to seek places incorporating higher levels of monitoring. The future of coworking spaces is getting very forward-leaning in terms of creating healthier work conditions and becoming a safer spot.

Flexible clauses that allow occupiers to enjoy spaces

Coworking will continue to influence the traditional picture of office space, as long as it becomes more flexible, with the expansion of contraction clauses that allow occupiers to enjoy the amount of space they are offered around as a core requirement.

Landlords are agreeing to abate a fair proportion of rents during a small period of time when the tenant cannot access the premises, for a variety of reasons including post-pandemic convalescence. There’s a real debate held about what the “fair proportion of time” actually means, but it is clear that well-advised tenants want to build more flexible kinds of clauses for their future coworking spaces.

Although working from home is useful for saving money and preventing viruses from spreading in an affected area, it can sometimes be a drag, especially if your workers don’t have a good setup or live in a small or crowded apartment. Ultimately, building coworking places that are imagined as communities where everyone can take care of each other, and respect for each other is more useful for productivity and regular cash flow. 

Because of that, people would feel more comfortable coming to work as long as everybody is wearing a mask, or keeping proper distance and taking care of their sanitary needs.

At some point, our business life will return to normal with social gatherings becoming acceptable again. Until vaccines are ready to take, the Coronavirus will still be drastically accelerating and changing the demands of co-working spaces, and pushing many employers to shift and distribute the workforce. 

In the close future, not only will there be more remote workers than ever before, but some major competitors may fall behind on the wayside, reducing competition among co-working spaces overall. Adding to these post-pandemic facts, commercial real estate shakeup can permanently shutter some companies and help others looking to shed unnecessary office space in favor of a more flexible, budget-friendly format for the future.

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